How I treat first relapse of myeloma

Jean Luc Harousseau and Michel Attal


The standard treatment of relapsed multiple myeloma (MM) was either lenalidomide-dexamethasone (RD) or bortezomib-dexamethasone (VD) but it is changing rapidly for two reasons. Firstly lenalidomide and bortezomib are currently used in frontline treatment and many patients become resistant to these agents early in the course of their disease. Secondly six second-line new agents have been recently developed and offer new possibilities (pomalidomide, carfilzomib and ixazomib, panobinostat, elotuzumab and daratumumab). Recent randomized studies have shown that triple combinations adding one of these new agents (except pomalidomide) to the RD or VD regimens were superior to the double combinations in terms of response rate and progression-free survival (PFS). Their place in the treatment of first relapse is discussed here. Among these agents daratumumab is clearly a breakthrough and daratumumab-based combinations might become the preferred option in the near future. However all these drugs are expensive and are not available or affordable in all countries. We propose a decision algorithm for first relapse in fit patients with the objective of achieving the best PFS. The choice of salvage regimen is based on lenalidomide/bortezomib resistance, daratumumab availability, and cost. Autologous transplantation should be considered in younger patients if not used upfront.

  • Submitted March 1, 2017.
  • Accepted June 21, 2017.